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Crystal Rain (Xenowealth #1)

3.57 of 5 stars 3.57  ·  rating details  ·  935 ratings  ·  124 reviews
Long ago, so the stories say, the old-fathers came to Nanagada through a worm's hole in the sky. Looking for a new world to call their own, they brought with them a rich mélange of cultures, religions, and dialects from a far-off planet called Earth. Mighty were the old-fathers, with the power to shape the world to their liking---but that was many generations ago, and what...more
Hardcover, Cover art by Todd Lockwood , 352 pages
Published February 7th 2006 by Tor Books
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Community Reviews

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This book was so much fun to read. Imagine another planet inhabited by Caribbean people and Aztecs. Imagine “gods” that require blood sacrifices. Imagine a world settled by humans who get cut off from the rest of humanity and have lost most of their technology and whose origins are the stuff of myth and legend. This is the setting of "Crystal Rain" by Tobias Buckell.

When you read as much genre fiction as I do, you start recognizing the formulas and get pretty good at determining where the story...more
The one about a land war on an isolated and technologically
retrograded colony world, with shadowy aliens working behind the

. . . Yeah, no. This book is a study in how social justice
awareness isn’t transitive. Buckell’s name got tossed around a lot a
couple years ago in race fail because he’s an author of color who, my
goodness, writes nonfaily science fiction about people of color. What
no one told me was that he simultaneously fails at disability. He
fails at disability like a boss, you guys...more
4.0 to 4.5 stars. Excellent debut novel. Fantastic world-building (much of which is only hinted at or briefly disclosed in this novel), great characters (with "Pepper" going on the list of one of the best characters of recent years) and a good story. Recommended.
Paul Stotts
Uniqueness can be a difficult thing to find in fantasy literature, as most novels follow the general archetypes. The medieval English setting established in the Sir Thomas Malory’s classic “Le Morte d’Arthur” has been grossly overused in the genre. So it is immensely refreshing to discover a fantasy/sci-fi novel that revolves around a Caribbean/South American type of setting. Creativity is a wonderful thing.

“Crystal Rain”, the strong debut novel by Tobias S. Buckell, is a unique hybrid that atte...more
The Flooze
With Crystal Rain, Buckell creates a crazy mish-mash of fantasy, myth, and sci-fi. All of which is wrapped up in the enigma: Who the heck is John deBrun?

He's a man with a hook. A fisherman. A family man. But he must be so much more since gods, spies, and a strange guy in a top hat are all hunting for him. The different factions think John can provide important information, but all he has is a case of amnesia.

The mystery of his true identity ties all the story threads together, but it's not the o...more
This is first rate SF, blending exciting action with interesting ideas in a plot that is paced beautifully. Buckell fits a lot into these 350 pages.

It's difficult to reveal much plot, because the author does such a nice job of slowly unveiling the history of his characters and world throughout the book. A man named John DeBrun who lives with his wife and son in a small jungle village on an island world called Nanagada has a rough past. He led a seafaring voyage north on behalf of his government...more
I did not realize that Ragamuffin was the sequel to this one, but it quickly became obvious to me. It wasn't too much of a problem; they're both capable of standing on their own. It was a bit odd to know the eventual fate of the characters, though.

In contrast with Ragamuffin, the characters in this one felt slightly more introspective. Part of that is because John deBrun has amnesia, and consequently spends a fair amount of time wondering about himself. Pepper seems more roguish and dangerous (a...more
Björn Clasén
Bra bok. Först förleddes jag att tro att det var en fantasy-historia, men efter ett tag visade det sig att "gudarna" var aliens och den primitiva civilisationen är resterna efter mänskliga rymdfarare/kolonisatörer som förlorat all avancerad teknik.
Boken är lite seg att komma in i, delvis för att den historiska bakgrunden inte kommer fram förrän ganska sent, och delvis pga korta kapitel vilket gör det lätt att lägga ned boken efter att ha bara läst ett par sidor.
I enjoyed this story overall. It took a while to really get going, but once things started the action continued. There was a bit of a mystery, a lot of action and some science mixed in. A little too much politics for my taste. But I liked his writing style okay, and I'd read more of his work.
This was a pretty good book if you like action adventure. The setting is novel, which I enjoyed. One of the civilizations is Aztec inspired (they serve alien "gods") and the other seems to draw from both Caribbean and African influences (the mongoose men, for instance). And all with airships and guns and hints of a much more advanced civilization.

It was good, and I enjoyed it (Buckell is very good at writing action scenes, and the scene with the airship was really well done) but the body count i...more
The Azteca have finally found a way across the Wicked High Mountains and are descending upon Capital City, slaughtering all the Nanagadans that get in their way. The young mayor of Capital City has plans, but all they will do is delay the Azteca. The Nanagandans' only hope is that the explorer John deBrun can find a mythical artifact from long ago, the Ma Wi Jung. Helping John is the bioengineered (to be AWESOME) Pepper, while an Azteca spy skulks undetected in hopes of hindering their quest.

Geoffrey Allan Plauché
[My rating, if GoodReads allowed half-stars: 3.5 stars.]

Steampunk is currently all the rage, but this book was published before steam engines and airships and whatnot became recently fashionable. And besides, Crystal Rain (Tor, 2007) isnot your ordinary steampunk. It has a healthy dose of post-apocalyptic science fiction as well, but here too Crystal Rain breaks the mold. On the one hand, the setting includes sailboats and airships, gaslights, firearms, and, mostly in Capitol City, steam-powere...more
This action filled adventure set on some far flung planet in a far away future immediately drew me in and kept my interest throughout. Humans had come through a worm hole, settled on the planet and were then attacked by aliens. The original settlers destroyed all technology to try to stop the aliens, and now, three hundred years later, there are two nations split by rugged mountains with a defended pass the only way across. On one side, the aliens who were worshipped as gods controlled the Aztec...more
Jesse Whitehead
Many years ago the Old Father’s ventured into the stars and settled on distant planets. They founded a colony and trade port on Nanagada, using the nearby wormhole to trade among the stars. Then they encountered the Loa and the Teotl – two powerful races locked in a war that destroyed worlds. In order to stop the spread of the war to Earth and the other colonies some of the men of Nanagada destroyed the wormhole with a massive EMP pulse that knocked out all technology in the system and cut them...more
It took me a long time to get to writing this review after finishing the book because I am feeling a bit conflicted about it. In the words of Enigo Montoya, "Let me 'spain."

Overall, I found the idea intriguing and the science of it all fascinating. On the other hand, the supposed Jamaican dialect and the lack of pacing made me want to abandon the book many times.

So, let's look at each of the parts of this in turn.

Setting: Truly, a unique and interesting setting with lots of potential for conflic...more
If Peter F. Hamilton can get away with setting sci-fi epics in Rutland, then Grenadian author Buckell can pull it off in this, his first novel, set on a remote planet long cut off from the rest of the Galaxy and which has degenerated into a perpetually idyllic Caribbean-style dreadlock holiday. But it's not all rum punch and jerk chicken, for just across the Wicked High mountains from the relaxed country of Nanagada live the Azteca, who, like their Mesoamerican forbears, live by a horrific cult...more
Catherine Fitzsimmons
Returning at last to the free ebooks offered in the promotion leading up to the opening of, this steampunk-genre book with a basis in hard science fiction tells the story of an army of fanatical warriors and their alien “gods” invading a small jungle civilization, the only settlements on a distant planet cut off from Earth. At the center of it all is a clearly extraordinary man whom everyone is searching, but who has no idea who he really is.

When I started reading this book, it was like...more
This book has many good ideas, and is well researched at a cultural level (its Rastas Vs. Aztecs as they have colonized a planet in the future but lapsed into circa 1900s tech because of some apocolyptic event).

The main character is John DeBrun and he's multidimensional, and interesting. He's somewhat unique in that he is a father and not a teen doing self-discovery.

Also, the Aztec gods are creepy aliens, and the only way to fight them is when you have bionic implants.

But the pacing lags becau...more
The prologue hooked me. But I started slipping during the first several chapters. The dialogue was written with pseudo-carribean accents and it pulled me away from the story until I got used to it. Thankfully Buckell didn't go so far as to misspell words, but the grammar was awkward enough to cause trouble.

This is forgivable though, because the author creates a unique world and writes about it well. The story itself is introduced in separate threads with different characters. This also contribut...more
I picked up Crystal Rain because I happened upon the sequel, and wanted to read this one first. Now that I understand how little connection there is between the two, I'm not certain that it helped. I still don't understand why the police of this world are called "Ragamuffins"...
The basic premise is that a very odd combination of human ethnic groups ended up settling a colony planet, then got cut off from Earth. Aliens, who were at the heart of the reason for them being cut off, molded the differ...more
Mar 13, 2013 Nancy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: scifi
Fast-moving adventure story with some really neat characters. I enjoyed it as a departure from other SF I've read. It has airships, nanotech, aliens living as gods, all with a Caribbean flavor. The dialect takes a while to get used to but I enjoyed it. And the airship fight was exciting as heck, loved that.

Overall the world didn't quite feel as immersive as I would have preferred, perhaps as a result of the fast pace. John is presented as the main character but I felt like we lost track of him...more
Buckell himself has described the book as: "A far-future Caribbean steampunk adventure . . . with Aztecs." And that sums it up pretty nicely.

Nanagada is a peaceful country/continent inhabited mainly by fishermen and farmers. John DeBrun washed up the tropical shores of the continent twenty-seven years ago and with no memory of his past life. Since then, he's settled with his wife Shanta and their thirteen year old son, Jerome. But a threat from across the Wicked Highs, the Azteca ruled by bloodt...more
When the ferocious Azteca threaten to overwhelm the world of Nanagada, John deBrun holds the key to its salvation. The problem is that he's been an amnesiac for twenty-seven years, since he washed up on the shores of his adopted country. Now he must race to recover the ancient device which could save his people before the Azteca and their gods destroy everything he's learned to hold dear.

Easily the best thing about Crystal Rain is its excellent, unusual worldbuilding, based on Caribbean culture....more
Very entertaining science fiction adventure, distinguished by inventive and original worldbuilding; some of its plot elements are horribly cliched (amnesia, anyone?) but Buckell makes them work anyway. The story: twenty-seven years ago John deBrun washed up on the shore of Nanagada with no memory of his past; now that past might hold the key to saving Nanagada from the invading Azteca. In this future, not everyone is white; the people of Nanagada are descended from Caribbean cultures (I assume y...more
Dec 12, 2013 Josh added it
Shelves: fiction
Crystal Rain is really an introduction to a broader series. It's a solid story on its own, but you get the sense that Buckell is only scratching the surface of the world (universe?) that he's imagined.

The story focuses on John deBrun, a man lacking hand and memory who lives in a place that seems very much like the Caribbean, though we realize pretty quickly that it's not even Earth. It's a place called Nanagada. John's life quickly gets turned upside down when war breaks out and he finds himself...more
Crystal Rain is Carribean SF with airships and bloodshed and steamboats and nanotech and plenty of action. Our hero, John deBrun, is a man who lost his memory 27 years ago. He's now married and raising a son, living a relatively content life, when the Azteca cross through the mountains and invade. The resulting war is bloody and desperate, and the only hope is for John to lead an expedition to find a long lost artifact called the Ma Wi Jung ... but the search for the Ma Wi Jung also brings John...more
Tim Hicks
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I really, really liked this. This is the second book of Buckell's that I've read where one of the main protagonists is a kick-ass amputee action hero. Love that. I thought the pacing of the action was really good in this too, I was totally on the edge of my seat, especially during the last part. I kept having to exclaim aloud in the coffeehouse. "Oh shit! Don't go in THERE! What are you THINKING?" haha. I was completely invested in John DeBrun (the aforementioned kick-ass disabled action hero) a...more
This starts out slow, but picks up and runs at the end. Most of the dialog "dialect" is awkward to read, and slowed my reading speed to a crawl, until I finally got used to it, half way through the book. It is also a bit bloodier than it could have been.

The concept is the people knew that they had lost technology, and lost history. They knew there were some living among them that were not aging. They were not sure if the aliens, that they shared the planet with, were trustworthy. When the known...more
Feb 05, 2008 Andrea rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: steampunk, fantasy, or sf fans who want something different
Recommended to Andrea by: OSC
Crystal Rain has one of the most original fantasy/sci-fi (I use both adjectives because both apply) worlds. Usually fantasy books are based on some sort of middle ages European variant. But the main setting for this book is a conflict between a Caribbean-like culture and an Aztec-like culture. It was great to see some aspects of these cultures explored in a sci-fi setting (why would people really sacrifice humans? how is advanced technology viewed by cultures without that technology?). Sometimes...more
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Born in the Caribbean, Tobias S. Buckell is a New York Times Bestselling author. His novels and over 50 short stories have been translated into 17 languages and he has been nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, Prometheus and John W. Campbell Award for Best New Science Fiction Author. He currently lives in Ohio.
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